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Thread: Basic skills for all planners

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Basic skills for all planners

    The plat question raises in interesting topic. What do you think are the basic skills for all planners (Mods, feel free to merge this with an existing thread, if one exists.)
    How to read deeds and legal descriptions
    The ability to read/review both subdivision plats and site plans.
    Read, interpret and apply regulations
    Effective communication
    Working knowledge of GIS
    People skills ( a thick skin is a requirement)
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  2. #2
    That's an interesting question. "Planner" may be too broad of a term because the requirements for a transportation planner could vary greatly from the requirements for an environmental planner. Regional differences also come into play. A community planner for a rural town in Vermont would have a different day-to-day job functions than a community planner in San Francisco. Lastly, public sectors planners are going to require different skill sets than private sector consultants.

    I believe there are a few skills listed that are universal, including effective communication and ability to interpret/apply regulations, but a lot of the other skills could be taught to a competent person while on the job.

    This also has me thinking about the curriculum in planning schools... how many of us reviewed deeds and plats in the classroom? I was a real estate undergrad major where all this was covered, but didn't get into it a whole lot in grad school.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Public speaking. I would put a public speaking course that included impromtu speaking in every planning program.

    Power Point. I hate watching people walk up to a podium and eject themselves out of a presentation. Seriously, just push the right arrow key!

    Microsoft Office. You need to be able to do basic spreadsheets and write reports. Related to that . . .

    An english class. This applies especially to Millennials. Grammer and spelling are important if you want to be a professional, and no, don't rely on spell check. Remember, there is a big difference between public and pubic, but they are both spelled right! Also, some instruction on report writing and structure would be helpful.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I'd add basic social psychology to what's already been stated. Familiarity with concepts like Game Theory, Loss Aversion, etc is crucial when it comes to manipulating situations toward the ends that you desire. In a field where your role is an advisory one, it is everything.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Coragus View post
    An english class. This applies especially to Millennials. Grammer and spelling are important if you want to be a professional, and no, don't rely on spell check. Remember, there is a big difference between public and pubic, but they are both spelled right! Also, some instruction on report writing and structure would be helpful.
    People look at me like I'm odd because I have a dictionary, Spell check, word check, and Style check set at my desk. MS Word does not know how to eloquently express ideas. This cannot be stressed enough.

    Other skills I would toss in are:

    AutoCAD
    Ability to read floorplans/construction documents
    Ability to read elevation contours
    Negotiation skills.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Coragus View post
    An english class. This applies especially to Millennials. Grammer and spelling are important if you want to be a professional, and no, don't rely on spell check. Remember, there is a big difference between public and pubic, but they are both spelled right! Also, some instruction on report writing and structure would be helpful.
    This made me laugh and I take the point well enough, but have to say that I have worked with plenty of boomers that couldn't spell or complete a sentence either.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jhenry View post
    This made me laugh and I take the point well enough, but have to say that I have worked with plenty of boomers that couldn't spell or complete a sentence either.
    As shown by the poster's spelling of grammer

    I agree with the concept though; you need to know how to write (and present) well.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian fareastsider's avatar
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    A good understanding of the culture and geography for the location in which you work.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I'd add the Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop) for all planners and at least basic Sketch-Up for many. Along with this would be basic graphic design skills (understanding hierarchy, alignment, etc.) I've found that visual communication is as important as the written and oral forms in expressing ideas.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    The plat question raises in interesting topic. What do you think are the basic skills for all planners (Mods, feel free to merge this with an existing thread, if one exists.)
    How to read deeds and legal descriptions
    The ability to read/review both subdivision plats and site plans.
    Read, interpret and apply regulations
    Effective communication
    Working knowledge of GIS
    People skills ( a thick skin is a requirement)

    And yet, how much of this is covered in planning school?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    And yet, how much of this is covered in planning school?
    Almost none, because planning school is mostly taught by academics (instead of practitioners). The academics who teach in planning programs are typically people who:
    1. When they finished school and had to decide what to do with themselves, did not chose to actually do planning, but got a job where they spend 35% of their time learning about something "related" to planning and the remaining 65% of their time teaching people what they learned.
    2. Often believe that theory IS reality.
    3. Usually have next to zero understanding of the experience of the typical local-government planner.
    4. Generally aren't even aware that they don't understand #3 above.
    5. . . .(feel free to add more as you think of them).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Are not required to teach specific courses because there is no state licensing board regulating course content (as opposed to engineering, architecture, hard sciences, medical, etc.).
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Are not required to teach specific courses because there is no state licensing board regulating course content (as opposed to engineering, architecture, hard sciences, medical, etc.).
    The APA does not support state licensure. Additionally, New Jersey, the only state to require a license to practice municipal planning, isn't a model example that I would like to see adapted elsewhere.

    Your post reminds me of this infamous assessment on the current state of American planning. The profession is struggling to clearly define itself.

    http://places.designobserver.com/fea...lanning/25188/
    The content contrarian

  14. #14
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Mods, please move this to the appropriate area, but of these basic skills listed, I feel like I lack any real good technical knowledge. Sure, I can facilitate projects, speak to councils, etc., but when it comes to hard skills I feel I come up dry. While this may only be my own interpretation it certainly lowers my self-confidence when it comes to large planning projects and upward mobility in the job market.

    Is there a good site out there that teaches how to do population forecasting, economic development market analysis, traffic impact analysis, etc? I remember talking about these issues in school but can not recall any process information. Is this a normal feeling or am I over-analyzing it?
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    I had a discussion with my staff today about this. Any planner worth his/her own salt needs to be able to operate a coffee maker. This is ESSENTIAL for meetings, especially in morning meetings is slightly-too-warm rooms.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    The APA does not support state licensure. Additionally, New Jersey, the only state to require a license to practice municipal planning, isn't a model example that I would like to see adapted elsewhere.

    Your post reminds me of this infamous assessment on the current state of American planning. The profession is struggling to clearly define itself.

    http://places.designobserver.com/fea...lanning/25188/
    Having read the article (and agreeing with most of it) planners point the fingers at their limitations (whether it is APA, local politicians, adopted code, angry citizens) rather than taking a pro-active approach to solving problems. I have been arguing for licensure for years as it increases credibility in the profession, streamlines education, and narrowly defines the planning profession. Working as a physical planner in a metro area which is VERY property rights driven, I am fortunate to see my projects take off from the beginning, much in the same way the article stresses prewar city planning.

    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post

    Is there a good site out there that teaches how to do population forecasting, economic development market analysis, traffic impact analysis, etc? I remember talking about these issues in school but can not recall any process information. Is this a normal feeling or am I over-analyzing it?
    There are plenty of books and resources on the internet. Two years ago I was stuck doing ALL of the non-planning analysis for an environmental assessment because my employer didn't bother hiring qualified consultants to deal with wetlands, archaeology, floodplain impacts, threatened and endangered species. I learned these types of analysis on the fly and wrote about 85% of the EA. As for learning about these issues in school, some programs are more hands-on than others. Again, licensure is one way to streamline education by separating out courses that are not geared to licensing the planner down the road. That doesn't mean those courses aren't important but a licensure system prepares the student with TANGIBLE skills needed to pass a licensing exam later in his/her career.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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